Before reading Sunday’s sermon, you might want to watch this video, just to kind of put you in the mood…
The Lord of the Dance is dancing. Are you dancing with Him?
As you already know, Christy and I returned to Muncie on Friday evening after an amazing journey halfway around the world to bring our newly adopted daughter home to live with us and be part of our family. I’m still struggling to put the entire experience into words. It was awe-inspiring, heartbreaking, humbling, and practically every other emotion in between all wrapped up into one indescribable experience. Of course, while we were there, we were continually reminded that we really were a half a world away from the comforts of home here in Cowan. It’s pretty easy to remember that when you have to carry bottled water wherever you go because you can’t drink the water from the tap. It’s pretty easy to remember when you have to take an anti-malarial drug when traveling to a particular region of the country. It’s also pretty easy when you have guys with big machine guns standing outside banks who confiscate your cameras and other electronic devices, and frisk you before you can even enter the building. It’s pretty easy to do when you have to ask your hosts what the different menu items are, just to make sure you’re not ordering something like cow stomach. Yes, we certainly were a half a world away.
And while we were half a world away, we had limited television access. Although that’s not exactly a bad thing, there were some of us in our travel group who really wanted to get some sports updates. Although we could get soccer updates at a moment’s notice, it took us a few days to find out that the Colts won their football game in dramatic fashion. I had no idea the Indianapolis-based Indiana Fever were in the Eastern Conference Finals in the WNBA. And I guess the new television season also began. There was a time when I waited for the season premieres with eager anticipation. Now, it’s generally an afterthought. Although, I do enjoy watching the opening episodes of one particular show: Dancing with the Stars. Have you seen this show? They take some well-known and not-so-well-known celebrities and pair them up with professional ballroom dancers and we watch the madness unfold. Some of the celebrities do really well. Others…not so much.
Ballroom dancing requires a certain level of trust between the dance partners. It also requires communication and give and take. There’s a great deal of effort and skill that goes into making ballroom dance look effortless and so easy. I mean, when you watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers glide across the movie set, it’s a beautiful thing. They move back and forth, back and forth. Lead and follow, back and forth and it looks like they’re actually walking on air.
We’re continuing our journey through the opening chapters of Genesis this morning. And as we move into the second chapter of Genesis, we find the opening steps of a beautiful dance: the movement of back and forth, leading and following in a breathtakingly beautiful relationship. If you have your Bibles with you, please turn with me to Genesis 2. If you don’t have your Bible with you, you’re welcome to use the one in the pew in front of you. Genesis 2 is found on page 2 of those red Bibles.
The opening verses of this chapter describe the intimate relationship between the Father and the man He created. There’s a give and take here, leading and following. And the two were in step in a beautiful dance of intimacy between the two.
The dance opens with a solo from the Father, highlighting His creative ability and His amazing power. He sweeps out His arm, speaks a word, and the vast array of the heavens with all of its stars, planets, moons, comets, and other heavenly landmarks were made. And again with the power of His word, He filled the earth with everything that’s in it. Including Adam.
But Adam took a little more effort than the previous acts of creation. With the skillful hands of the Ultimate Potter, He took the dirt of the earth and fashioned it into a man. And with a single exhale, He breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. His heart began beating with the heartbeat of the Father’s. His breaths occurred in time with the Father’s direction. Step by step, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat, the dance between God and humanity began.
After seeing that all God had created was good, God rested.
And the dance continued.
God planted the Garden of Eden as a place for Adam to live and work. It sounds like this was an amazing place – even more spectacular than the rest of creation that surrounds us here on earth. And Adam took care of it. There was give and take. God provided and Adam used. God planted and Adam harvested. God set limits, telling Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil found in the middle of the Garden. And Adam followed the lead of the Father. Later, in chapter 3, we hear that Adam and God walked together in the cool of the evening. They walked together step by step and worked together hand in hand in a beautiful, intimate friendship.
And the dance continued. Step by step, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat, the dance continued.
All of our lives begin with this dance step. Nothing else will be in complete sync if you don’t begin with this simple move – following the Father’s lead. When skilled performers dance together, one is the leader and the other is a follower. Both can be amazingly talented and have a great amount of skill, but if both are trying to perform as the leader of the dance, it will fall apart. The same is true with us. Your life is a dance. And you were made to follow the lead of your partner, our Heavenly Father. And when you try to do it on your own, trying to wrestle the lead from the Father, it just falls apart. It’s not nearly as beautiful as the dance could be. It’s not nearly as beautiful as it was intended to be.
Is that your life? Have you found yourself trying to wrestle the leadership role away from the Father? Have you tried doing it all on your own, pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps and assuming you can maintain control all by yourself? Does your life echo the Frank Sinatra song, which says,
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
You can live your life solo, doing things your way. That may work for a while. But you weren’t made to live your life by yourself. You were made to dance with your Heavenly Father. If you continue to try to do it all on your own, wrestling control from the Lord of the Dance, things will eventually fall apart. And the dance won’t be nearly as beautiful as God had choreographed it to be.
If that’s you, if you’ve been trying to dance solo, the beautiful part of the story is that you can still allow Him to have leadership of your life. He is waiting for you to allow Him to regain that position of leadership of your life’s dance. He will not force you to do this, but He will step in as soon as you choose to allow Him access. And your dance can become even more beautiful.
And so the dance continued with Adam and the Father. They were hand in hand, moving in perfect sync. But something was missing. Something just wasn’t right. This beautiful dance could be even more amazing with the change of one small thing. And here’s how it happened…
God knew there needed to be another partner. And after seeing that none of the creatures already created could serve as a fitting partner in this three-sided dance, God took a rib from Adam and formed woman, flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone, and a perfect completion to the emptiness of Adam’s dance.
And the dance continued. But now there were three. Adam, Eve, and the Heavenly Father were all moving in perfect step. The two people, Adam and Eve, became one. And they were led by their Creator in a beautiful display of intimacy, love, and completion.
The last verse in this chapter sticks out a bit, doesn’t it? Why would the divinely inspired author of the book of Genesis find it important to mention that Adam and Eve were naked and they had no shame? Is the human body something we should be ashamed of? It’s a creation of God and He said it was very good. I think it goes deeper than body image or modesty.
Adam and Eve were completely innocent of any hint of sin. They were created for each other and their dance was complete with God as the leader. They knew everything about each other and had absolutely nothing to hide from each other. Their nakedness isn’t just a reference to being without clothing. They were at ease with each other without any fear of exploitation or potential of evil. They had perfect intimacy and were truly one flesh with no secrets or shame. Nothing to hide from each other.
And the dance continued. Hand in hand in hand, heartbeat by heartbeat by heartbeat, breath by breath by breath, step by step by step. Two people as one flesh following the leadership of the Father.
Imagine what it would be like if our lives were so pure that we didn’t have to keep any secrets from each other. Imagine what impact we would have on the world if we could open ourselves up to each other and be vulnerable with each other. Imagine what it would be like if the church around the world lifted up the cover and stopped pretending to have everything figured out. What if the church around the world had enough faith in the Lord of the Dance to be willing to open ourselves up to each other and expose our inner thought to each other without fear. Imagine the testimony our marriages would have if husbands and wives had nothing to hide from each other. Imagine the testimony our marriages would have if we stopped jockeying with each other for position as the lead dancer. Imagine the impact a marriage can have on the world when two truly become one with nothing to hide, relying on God’s guidance for leadership. That’s a beautiful dance.
The dance continues today. And you’re invited to participate. Stop trying to take the lead and follow the Lord of the Dance. He created you for this. He created you for a deep, intimate friendship with Him and with others. He wants to know you and be known by you. All you have to do is allow Him to take the lead of your dance. Stop trying to go solo and follow the lead of the Lord of the Dance.